Ask AI 001: More Sustainable EV Mineral Mining
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Ask AI 001: More Sustainable EVs

As Kuromon Market in Osaka was about to close for the evening I sampled some delicious king crab and did a final lap of the market when I stumbled upon one of the most Japanese scenes I could possibly imagine, a little girl, making friends with a robot.

In this column, we ask an advanced AI about one of the most pressing issues facing the electric vehicle industry: sustainable mining!

One of the most common criticisms of the electric vehicle revolution focuses on the often harmful and excessive carbon costs of mining elements like cobalt and lithium that are necessary for modern electric vehicle batteries. And, while EV evangelists can point to ethical mining practices, closed-loop cycles, and a number of well-funded recycling efforts already underwaynot to mention the fact that EV batteries tend to last a lot longer than most people think — the fact remains that mining these elements is a dirty, dirty business.

Instead of seeking out either detractors or proponents for electric cars, however, we’ve decided to try something different in a new column we’re calling, “Ask AI.”

The short version is this: we’re going to ask one of the most eerily accurate artificial intelligence programs out there a bunch of tough questions about electric vehicles, and then share their responses with you, below. In this episode, we’ve asked the AI how mining for the raw materials needed to make EV batteries could be done in a more sustainable way … and here’s what we got:

The extraction and processing of raw materials for electric vehicle (EV) batteries can have significant environmental impacts, including air and water pollution, habitat destruction, and greenhouse gas emissions. However, there are steps that can be taken to minimize these impacts and make the mining of EV battery materials more sustainable.

One approach is to prioritize the use of recycled materials. Many EV battery materials, such as cobalt, lithium, and copper, can be recycled and reused, reducing the need for new mining and processing. Recycling also reduces greenhouse gas emissions and energy use, as the processing of recycled materials is typically less energy-intensive than the extraction and processing of new materials.

Another strategy is to minimize the environmental impacts of new mining operations. This can be achieved through the use of sustainable mining practices, such as reclaiming and restoring mined lands, conserving water resources, and minimizing waste and pollution. In addition, mining companies can invest in technologies that capture and offset their greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon capture and storage systems.

Another way to make EV battery production more sustainable is to use materials that are more abundant and have a lower environmental impact to extract. For example, lithium-ion batteries used in EVs often contain cobalt, which is a scarce and controversial material due to its association with human rights abuses and environmental degradation in countries where it is mined. By contrast, nickel and manganese, which can also be used in EV batteries, are more abundant and have a lower environmental impact to extract.

Finally, efforts can be made to reduce the overall demand for EV battery materials. One way to do this is to increase the energy efficiency of EVs, which would reduce the amount of materials needed to produce their batteries. Additionally, the development of new battery technologies that use alternative materials or require fewer raw materials could also help to reduce demand.

Overall, there are many ways to make the mining of EV battery materials more sustainable, including prioritizing recycled materials, minimizing the environmental impacts of new mining operations, using materials with a lower environmental impact to extract, and reducing overall demand for these materials.

Produced using OpenAI Chat GPT.

What do you guys think of the AI’s answer? Is the AI’s answer better or worse than what you’ve heard from other sources — and did the AI miss a trick or two? Scroll down to the bottom of the page and let us know what you think of this artificial response in the comments.


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